COBIS: Revitalizing Banking through Financial Agility

William Moss, CEO, COBISWilliam Moss, CEO While larger banks and financial conglomerates more or less stood tall following the financial crisis of 2008, it was the small-to-medium banks who took the hardest hit in the process. Slow to adopt new technology and conform to the digital trends that have revolutionized banking, they have fallen short of expectations. Furthermore, the recent surge in Fintech startups has only done so much to remedy the situation for them. This is where COBIS comes in—providing a new lane for finance SMBs to tackle the challenges of today while future-proofing their strategic and operational priorities through forward-thinking technology and a more agile approach to core banking. “We help banks recognize their advantages in the current competitive environment so they can keep moving and spearhead the change that is happening in banking as a whole right now,” states William Moss, CEO, COBIS. “Whether banks like to admit it or not, there is a revolution going on outside, and we are here to enable their evolution and help them get on the right track.”

Probably the greatest challenge for small-to-medium banks today is their inability to evolve in order to meet the growing digital needs of their clientele. While Fintech is commonly referred to as “innovative banking,” a lack of post-crisis innovation combined with old technology that is still stuck within the financial SMB infrastructures has led them to be the “deer in the headlights” in today’s competitive age. However, the COBIS CEO points out that this is not happening due to banks being incapable of doing more, but because “they often do not realize the advantages they have in the aspects of core banking.” In response, COBIS has developed a platform that enables them to quickly adapt to the ever-changing market trends by leveraging their “hidden” advantages inside what is referred to as the Cooperative Open Banking Information System—hence the name, COBIS.

Unveiling the Hidden Value Proposition

In order for the small-to-medium banks to evolve and adapt over time, they need to accept the current reality in all of its forms and recognize the factors that can help them survive, or to a further extent, rise above the competition. According to Moss, “the biggest value proposition of small-to-medium banks essentially lies within their infrastructure.” Hence, COBIS helps them build the confidence needed to compete and paint the true picture of the strategic advantages that they often times cannot see in the face of defeat—from understanding compliance regulations and finessing better funding to the much deeper client relationships than larger banks.

As Moss points out, “the strategic readiness on the bank’s end combined with the operational readiness brought by COBIS yields financial agility.”

It starts with eliciting strategy and empowering the banks to lead the evolution and become financially agile institutions. The transformation banks need to go through, not only has to do with technology but the rate they go about executing strategy. There must be a consensus within the entire team, especially on the management side, about the banks’ strategic objectives and the methods they will use to align with them. The second part of the equation for COBIS is getting business done and enabling execution. To do so, they have adopted the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe), which enables organizations to execute at scale. SAFe has allowed COBIS to become more agile by cutting down on their human resources while getting a lot more business done than before. It is one of the main reasons they advocate it so much with all of their clients.

The strategic readiness on the bank’s end combined with the operational readiness brought by COBIS yields financial agility

Having been around since before computers even existed, COBIS team recognized and experienced first-hand that agility and constant adaptation to the market changes exceed the boundaries of mere software companies. Moss emphasizes that “it is about orchestrating the entire enterprise and changing the way work is executed from a traditional waterfall approach that has been there since the industrial age to a more holistic one that really moves and empowers people and emphasizes completed work a lot more than documentation, which can accelerate any-sized institution dramatically.”

He strongly believes that the world, in general, needs to become more agile. It is why COBIS utilizes the SAFe development framework on a much larger scale, as it pertains to banks and financial institutions. It brings elements that can be iterated across multi-disciplinary teams that are working together very intimately, where they can just talk to each other rather than document things, becoming more efficient in the process. It is indeed a transformation the banks need to go through to compete in the market and “we can support that process with our technology, proven execution methods, as well as the digital marketing side of things, which is crucial for gaining more business in today’s digitized environment,” explains Moss.

Mainstreet – The Core Banking Highway

Where banks and credit unions, to a lesser extent, are losing retail to the larger banks, small-to-medium community banks are outmatched by the larger banks. It is the logical assumption that customers wanting to open up a bank account in the U.S. will most probably go to a widely renowned bank that has internet banking facilities instead of the smaller, local community bank.

For this very reason, COBIS has developed COBIS Mainstreet, a platform that allows SMBs to better serve their SMB clientele. Robust, adaptive, and enriched with functionality, Mainstreet enables banks to virtualize their business and be “the hub of the wheel,” taking the business directly into their clients’ hands and servicing them with a lot of efficiencies.

“Traditionally, banks were the hub of the economic activity of the community, which is exactly what they need to be right now—just in a different, virtual form,” explains Moss. “Our core capabilities allow small-to-medium-sized banks to find a venue against other financial institutions and aggressively compete in today’s environment.” Moreover, Mainstreet’s underlying API allows it to further integrate with other platforms, as well as COBIS’s existing offerings. Being that most financial institutions are suffering from very rigid, expensive and old technology that has them hamstrung, “the market needs something like this,” says Moss. “Essentially, Mainstreet can adapt and deliver value to our clients quickly, which is what ‘agile’ is all about.”

Becoming Financial Agility Partners

What allows COBIS to thrive among the competition is “merely a different perspective to banking,” Moss says. It has always been in the company’s DNA to not approach banks for the sake of selling them solutions and technology but to create partnerships that will enable them to change on a much larger scale. Moss proudly emphasizes the fact that they are “financial agility partners” of each and every one of their clients. Their more than 500 banking technology specialists work tirelessly to develop sophisticated in-house financial software to meet their clients’ technological needs in regards to the latest banking trends.

This inherent sense of seeing the larger picture within the COBIS team preserves a tradition that has remained intact since 1953. Needless to say, COBIS is not a result of any acquisition, nor has it ever made any acquisitions. In fact, it is a unique amalgam of experienced and amazingly talented, young people that has created a collaboration-driven culture and a high level of good will, “which is something that we’ve always aimed to foster both internally and within our global client base, particularly now with the implementation of the SAFe methods within our architecture,” adds Moss.

"Our core capabilities allow small-to-medium-sized banks to find a venue against other financial institutions and aggressively compete in today’s environment"

Forging ahead, Moss recognizes the COBIS’s unique opportunity to scale and penetrate previously untapped, larger markets. Moreover, they will be rolling out a new solution called COBIS Cloud, which is going to be heavily focused on microfinance. Consequently, COBIS can provide the unique value proposition and operational advantages for larger banks looking to touch new ground in smaller markets and scale efficiently, and vice versa. “Banks around the world have reached a point where they simply need to evolve, and by refreshing and modernizing our technology, we can partner with them to ensure they become financially agile and come out on top despite any odds indicating differently,” concludes Moss.

- Jasmin Alic
    October 16, 2017